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eCommons: Cornell's Digital Repository

Information and user support for eCommons, Cornell's Digital Repository.

Copyright and intellectual property concerns for eCommons users

Avoiding copyright infringement

Two attestations in the eCommons license are prompts to ensure that submitters to eCommons do not violate copyright law:

  • Users must attest that by depositing content in eCommons, they are not infringing upon anyone's copyright (see the eCommons license).
  • Users must attest that they have the right to grant the rights contained in the eCommons license.

If you're uncertain whether you have the right to do either, the Copyright Information Center is a good source of information and guidance.

Protecting your own rights as an author and allowing others to use your work

The copyright holder of any work submitted to eCommons retains copyright to the work. Submission to eCommons imposes no restrictions on your future use of the work. However, it is a good idea to be explicit about what others can and cannot do with your work by applying a license to it. Creative Commons provides an easy way to license your work. With the exception of CC0, all Creative Commons licenses require that any use of your work is credited to you. In many cases, either the Creative Commons  Attribution (CC BY) or Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) is a good choice for eCommons content, but the choice depends on the goals and concerns of the author. CC0, technically a waiver and not a license, is a forfeiture all copyrights, and places the work in the public domain. 

The other Creative Commons licenses options depend on how each of the following two questions are answered in the submission process:

Allow commercial uses of your work?
Allow modifications of your work? No* Yes
Share-alike CC BY-NC-SA CC BY-SA

* The licensor permits others to copy, distribute and transmit the work. In return, licensees may not use the work for commercial purposes – unless they get the licensor's permission.

** The licensor permits others to copy, distribute and transmit only unaltered copies of the work – not derivative works based on it.

If you choose to apply a Creative Commons license to your work, we also recommend that you include the license you select within the work itself

Selecting "No Creative Commons License," results in the author or copyright holder retaining all copyrights in the submitted work. Application of a Creative Commons license to a work may requested at any time by the copyright holder, by contacting the eCommons administrator.

For further resources on author rights, see Author Rights Resources. For data sets, we recommend you consult the Research Data Management Service Group's Introduction to intellectual property rights in data management.

Concerns about "prior publication"

This is a legitimate concern if you are depositing previously unpublished work in eCommons, and have subsequent plans to publish it elsewhere. Most work, if submitted for publication, will undergo revision, and many publishers do not consider earlier drafts as prior publication. A few academic journals, however, have policies against publishing previously printed or archived work. Consult your publisher, thesis advisor or the honors office, as appropriate, if you have questions about this. For more information on determining publishers' policies on prior publication, you might also wish to consult Understanding Publisher Methods.

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